Main content
Melbourne Football Club

AFLW: Taekwondo champion to make debut

AFLW | Debut Surprise Shelley Heath was surprised by her debut announcement.
If you take out your aggression in your tackle, then it’s legal which is good.
Shelley Heath

AT just nine years of age, Shelley Heath was an Australian taekwondo champion.

Fast-forward nine years down the track and the 18-year-old is making her AFL debut.

“I started doing taekwondo when I was five and I went until I was nine,” Heath told Melbourne Media.

“I did it with my brother and my dad. I think we just did it to learn some self defence and I really enjoyed it, so I went on with my dad.

“And then I got to a high belt and went onto be the Australian champion of my age group which was awesome.”

Heath may appear shy and stands at just 160cm, but she has an unexposed aggression that she will be unleashing in the red and blue.

The small defender is set to line-up against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night and says she has a trick up her sleeve from her previous career that could come in handy.

“Mainly just my tackling,” Heath said.

“If you take out your aggression in your tackle, then it’s legal which is good.”

Heath is debuting on an exciting occasion for the Demons, as she will be a part of the double-header at Marvel Stadium in front of a big crowd.

“Playing on a very well-known stadium, that’s awesome,” she said.

While nerves would only be natural with the anticipation of a first game, Heath isn’t focusing on it just yet.

“I’m trying not to think about it too much, so I don’t get too many nerves, but they’ll come on tonight before bed,” she said.

The reveal of Heath’s debut came in an innovative way, with teammate Lily Mithen doing the honours.

Mithen sat Heath down for an interview – supposedly for a best and fairest content piece – and caught the unsuspecting Heath off guard.

“Interviews aren’t my favourite thing to do but it was very exciting,” Heath said.

“It was shocking – I had no idea it was coming.”

After being drafted to the club with pick No.44 last year, Heath always dreamed of debuting in 2019, but thought she may be forced to wait.

“I really wanted a game but didn’t expect to get one, so getting one is just awesome,” she said.

Heath has been edging closer to her debut in recent weeks but still didn’t see the call-up coming.

“Being emergency, I thought I was always that one step closer,” she said.

“But I didn’t know when and didn’t know if they would take anyone out of the team because we’ve been doing really well and we’ve been winning.

“So I was just patiently waiting to see what was going to happen.”

Heath’s first game against the Dogs will kick off at 7:15pm on Saturday night.